When Paul got home, he made veggie salisbury steak since he knows Daniel likes it, and after we ate, we watched Legends of Tomorrow (episodes have been winner after winner so far this year, though I want to know where that Herndon Renfaire takes place). Then we put on the insane Rams-Chiefs game, which had the highest score ever on Monday Night Football and nearly went into overtime before the Rams intercepted in the last minute.
I should write something coherent on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, but it's shaping up to be one of those weeks when I don't write half of that I meant to -- it must have been a man without a family who decided that November should be the month for NaNoWriMo -- so I will just write down a few things before I forget and maybe talk about it more when the DVD is out.
I enjoyed the movie, in some ways more than I was expecting because I knew the reviews weren't good, which I attribute in large part to my lack of serious emotional investment in any person or relationship, so maybe that is damning with faint praise. I like Newt, Tina, and Queenie but I don't have enough of a sense of who they are to conclude at any given moment that they're out of character.
I love Jude Law's Dumbledore, and I was not upset about the Big Reveal at the end. We know Dumbledore family history in large part from Rita Skeeter and from Aberforth, neither of whom is a reliable narrator under the best of circumstances and both of whom had significant reasons to lie, distort, or leave out big parts of the truth in the HP series. I can believe the family has bigger secrets than how Ariana died.
I know people didn't think Dumbledore was gay enough for his presence to count as proper LGBT representation, but literally all he talked about was Grindelwald, he fantasized about him in the Mirror of Erised, he indicated that every aspect of his life was shaped by him...I'll be irritated if we don't get more backstory in subsequent movies, but I was fine with the amount we got in this one.
I loved the DADA scene with the Boggart in which we see that Lupin got his teaching style from Dumbledore; it's beautifully nostalgic without feeling like it's dragging in the HP films. In general, the use of Hogwarts in this film worked for me and I loved hearing Hedwig's theme. Someone's going to have to explain McGonagall's timeline -- did she use a Time Turner to teach before she was born, or is that her mother?
And I love that the movie isn't confined to Hogwarts or even to England; the wizarding world seems wider and more diverse, plus I'm especially biased toward the gorgeous sepia Paris scenes, glimpses of Montmartre, even the colorful magical circus (though there are too many dragons taking up too much screen time). This Les Miserables fan also squealed that there was a scene set in the Paris sewers!
So that's what I liked, the gorgeousness and the sweep of it. For a franchise named Fantastic Beasts, though, I really wished there were more beasts being fantastic and not just big fiery dragons and a couple of adorable troublemakers. This is a very weird thing for me to say, but I felt like there were too many love stories; I'd rather have seen more intense focus on wizards making choices NOT out of romantic distraction.
Absolutely everything about Nagini is disturbing -- the racist Dragon Lady undertones, the sexism of blood curses that turn women desperate and then Evil -- is that supposed to justify the fact that eventually, Neville will slaughter this woman in the form of a snake? I wondered whether I would hold Snape's murder against her, but Nagini is hardly enough of a character for me to feel more than pity.
But really, the biggest problem with the movie is encapsulated by the title. I have no idea what the crimes of Grindelwald are, apart from his role in Ariana's death and whatever went on with the Elder Wand whose details I no longer remember from HP. Obviously he lied to Queenie, who is now too stupid for me to pity, and obviously he manipulated and abused Credence when he was pretending to be Graves. What motivates him? We should know by now.
When Daniel first read HP as a child, and realized the Minister of Magic could talk to the Muggle Prime Minister, he wanted to know why wizards weren't doing anything to stop pollution. Grindelwald can see accurately what's about to happen during WWII. Am I supposed to think a meddling wizard trying to stop Muggles from creating the Bomb, even a tyrannical demagogue, would have been worse than Hitler? Not sold yet, sorry.
Some cows from Kiparoo Farm and South Mountain Creamery from our excursion last weekend: